REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brags that when his teams of meditators set up shop in any given town, they can lower the crime rate, improve the weather, and put everyone in a better mood. I haven't seen the data, but I firmly believe it's possible. When a bunch of people all relax and concentrate on a single theme at the same time, you've got the makings of a major magic spell. In fact, what do you say we harness the power of group meditation for your benefit this week? On Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. EDT, let's all focus on the following words for exactly five minutes: JOB JOY FOR ARIES.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): “Dear Rob 'Big Talker' Brezsny: From now on, I'm calling you Mr. Empty Promises. You keep hinting around that paradise is just around the corner, and it never comes. I'm tired of getting my hopes built up for nothing. — Faithless Taurus.”

Dear Faithless: My glowing predictions always assume you're going to do the hard work to make them come true. Before you dismiss me as a hypemeister, you should ask yourself if laziness and passivity are sabotaging your opportunities. Having said that, however, I must report that the week ahead is an exception to the rule. You won't have to lift a finger to collect a host of blessings.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I'm coming to you this week from a place the local Mississippians call Crazy Cave. To drive home the metaphor that I think should guide your life this week, I will soon be rappelling down 230 feet into a yawning, unlit abyss — braving claustrophobia, weird smells, and who-knows-what-else. As my feet paw against the slick sides of the vertical tunnel, I'll be thinking of you, hoping that you will be delving deeper and deeper and deeper into the pungent subterranean heart of your own world.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): It'll be a week rife with leaks, rumors, and embarrassing truths. There's no telling how many covers will be blown, shortcuts revealed, and hidden connections exposed. He or she who communicates best will win every game. He or she who gossips most constructively will arouse the least backlash.

I'm only half-joking when I conclude this week's message with the wisdom of a bumper sticker I saw in Texas: “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.”

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): We go now to our financial correspondent, Guru Tiffany, for an update on your progress in making ends meet. Tiff?

“Well, Rob, I'm sorry to report the latest ABC/Wall Street Journal Poll shows that only 12 percent of all Leos have gotten aromatherapy for their credit cards, as you've suggested. And a mere 9 percent have withdrawn all their filthy lucre from the bank and washed it with no-phosphate Eco-Suds in a bronze Tibetan bowl blessed by the Dalai Lama, as you've also prescribed. Apparently very few Leos have yet to take your suggestion that they purify their money karma with slapstick rituals.”

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I implore you not to alphabetize the spices in the cupboard this week. I beg you not to wash and polish your bottle-cap collection or read the VCR instruction book from cover to cover or count the cracks in the sidewalk as you take a perfectly timed 22-minute walk. Your current surplus of good karma, rowdy chutzpah, and incredibly precise luck is too valuable to channel into projects like that. On bended knee, I'm pleading with you to seek out instead adventures that make your knees wobbly, your heartbeat fluttery, and your mouth absolutely speechless.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In this, the hour of your discouragement, I'd like to share an insight my therapist gave me recently. It's easy, she said, to love people for their wonderful qualities and the excitement you feel when you're with them. What's tougher and more interesting is to love the way they disappoint you. You learn as much through disappointment, after all, as you do from quenching your longings. Those who let you down, then, are worthy of the gratitude you'd give to any of your best teachers. Besides, what good is your love if it's only given to those who do something nice for you?

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Can you guess what the following events have in common? 1) Sir Edmund Hillary standing at the top of Mount Everest in May 1953. 2) Charles Darwin admiring his freshly published masterwork, On the Origin of Species, in London in November 1859. 3) Joan Anglicus, who had secretly impersonated a man all her adult life, donning the purple robe upon being elected Pope John VIII at the Vatican in March 853. 4) Francois-Louis Cailler, holding his creation, the very first chocolate bar ever manufactured, in Bern, Switzerland, in June 1819. 5) You, Scorpio, aglow with smoldering radiance, in your new power spot in September 1995.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Most of us use a mere 5 percent of our total brainpower, preferring to devote the remaining 95 percent to the storage of things like old song lyrics and memories of the mean things ex-lovers did to us. I am pleased to report, however, that ever since your quantum leap of faith you've been drawing juice from a full 12 percent of your gray matter — with no letdown in sight. Can you keep it up? Doubtful. Eventually, the 5 Percent Majority will probably drag you back down to its level. But while you're up there at the superhuman level, you just may be able to solve riddles that've plagued you all your life.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The poet Rilke captured my feelings about your imminent future when he said, “I want to beg you to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves.” In other words, Capricorn, you're welcome to be a know-it-all the other 51 weeks of the year, but this week I strongly urge you to trust nothing but the gray areas and the mysteries. The fewer conclusions you jump to, the smarter you'll be.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I thank you in advance for sharing, Aquarius. I feel sure you're going to want to share your brains out during the upcoming téte-à-tétes and heart-to-hearts. Need I refresh your memory about how many legal highs tend to flow your way whenever you help underachievers subdue their demons? Need I risk being vulgar to remind you about the generous moods overachievers get into when you make it possible for them to really relax their sphincter muscles? Your selfish interests are served, my catalytic and symbiotic friend, by being unselfish.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20): You're smack in the middle of your Unbirthday Season, that flippy-floppy time when you're going to be deluged by feedback whether you like it or not. So you might as well like it. In fact, you should probably encourage it and solicit it — even pay for it. To get in the mood, I recommend an intense session of Mirror Therapy. (Caution: If you would prefer to cling pitifully to outdated self-images, please do not try this.)

Ready? Then make a date with the best mirror you know. The only instruction you need is to gaze into your own eyes without interruption for at least 13 minutes.

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